Hina Matsuri, a day to remember and celebrate our little girls, wishing them happiness and good luck in their futures. KA Moms contributed not just images but background stories to their doll sets, some sets bought as recently as this year, some passed down from generation to generation dating 90 years back, some full-on 7 tier levels, some as simple as paper, some from specialized doll-shops, some completely handmade. However these sets came to our houses, they are part of the tradition and culture of life in Japan.
While March 3rd is the day most of the country celebrates this, some areas of the country celebrate in April. A few Moms live in areas that celebrate later:
Kristin S: My dolls aren’t even out yet. Where I live in Chichibu we celebrate hina matsuri in April.
Heather F: It’s because we’re old school traditional and celebrate girls day, boys day and obon a month late so it matches 旧暦 Kyureki, the old calendar. Our dolls don’t even go out till March 3rd and my MIL (not from round here) FREAKS as she is convinced my daughters will never get married this way.
Diane K: DH explained that the reason for the different seasons and having to make sure that the dolls were back in storage by a certain date (before rainy season) actually has more to do with the dolls getting moldy from the humidity than it has to do with the old wives tale that your daughter will not get married.
A bit of culture: Many families don’t keep their doll sets after the original owner dies: ‘When it’s time to get rid of the dolls, usually when the owner of them dies, you bring the doll set to the temple to have them burned and all the worries, etc. of the owner with it. My husband says you can also give them to the temple to be kept with them without having them burned as well.’
Despite this tradition of burning the set, most KA Moms couldn’t bear to part with some of the ones they inherited, some that hold histories dating back 90 years. And so, enjoy these little stories and background to the many different sets we have cumulatively collected!
Adele: These are our dolls. My in-laws were adamant that our daughter would have a set so they drove seven hours to deliver them to our tiny apartment two months before DD’s first Hina Matsuri festival. My MIL told us that her daughter didn’t receive any because her grandparents had so many kids and therefore grand kids and weren’t financially in a position to give everyone such elaborate and expensive presents. This proved to be a problem for my SIL growing up as other girls bullied her because she had no dolls. The part of Japan that they live in is known for their wealth and traditional dolls. MIL didn’t want DD to be the subject if the same torment so they chose dolls that she would be proud of.
These dolls are big, each dolls is 30cm wide so I’m glad we have just them. They are elegant though and every year I put them up I admire the handiwork that has been put into each of them. I can’t but stop and wonder what it would be like to wear a kimono just like that!
Alexandra O: These are our Hinasamas. My great-grandmother sent them from Japan to the US when my mother was born (1940). My mother had 3 little sisters. I never saw them when I was growing up because we lived on the East coast and only visited Seattle at Christmas/summer. My aunt put them up for my cousins. Those cousins only have one boy between them, so the family decided we (with three dds) should have them and sent them to us in Japan. Unwrapping them for the first time was so cool. They were in newspaper from the 50s and 70s/80s, and are stored in very don’t-make-them-like-they-used-to cardboard boxes from my Grandpa’s fish business (circa late 40s, early 50s).
Angela S: My parents-in-law bought our daughter’s doll set when she was just 2 months old in preparation for her first Girl’s Day. Sara Rose is their one and only grandchild so they always want to go all out for her! They are also very superstitious and believe she needed to have brand new dolls as well. We own a chain of kaiten sushi restaurants and one of them is in the Keihan Department Store. To keep a good business relationship with their president, we routinely make large purchases there. My MIL called ahead to say she was coming to buy the dolls. The Keihan department then reserved a set which was personally picked out for us and placed aside ready and waiting. Of course it just happened to be the best and most expensive one they had! It was made by a famous designer in Kyoto. So we didn’t have much of a choice at all but it’s just as well. Keihan even sent their staff to our condo to set up and also take down Sara’s dolls which was just incredible service! Now, we are in our new house and finally have much more room to display them in their own Japanese tatami room even. It is much more convenient than trying to squeeze them into Sara’s small sized bedroom at our old condo in the beginning which you can see in this photo! xoxo
Beth: This isn’t maybe what you’re looking for, but I love my daughter’s blue eyed toilet paper-roll hina dolls!
Chiara: No family dolls here but we love the ones that we chose for our daughter. We live in a 1LDK so anything bigger just wasn’t practical! They all fit into the circle when it’s time to pack them away, it’s really handy.
Claire: Claire: We only have a tiny one for DD – that’s fine with me though. SIL asked me to choose a set for her to buy my DD last year. I chose this one because I thought it was really pretty and unusual, and it means a lot that SIL bought it for us.
Danielle: Ours is like 30 years old, inherited from my SILs. My inlaws asked if we wanted a smaller one but I like the idea of making this every year (though it has to be kept at their house because our tatami room is the girls playroom at the moment).
Diane K: We also have the full 7 tier set but no room to put it up so we just do the prince and princess. But I like to tell the story cause it always gives me goosebumps. I got mine from a student of mine. She only had sons and her daughter-in-laws didn’t want the set. Anyway she told me about how her mother said that she could only bring one thing with her when they were escaping the fires of Tokyo. She choose her Hina dolls. She carried them all the way from Tokyo to Chiba avoiding all the bombs.
Erinn: I always planned to move, so my set is tiny, and handmade, from swarovski crystals. When complete, there will be about 15 pieces total.
Heather S: Here is our stadium from the ILs. Lucky we moved into a house otherwise we’d never have set it up.
Heidi K: We had a huge 5 bedroom house when we got this and it looked lovely in the Japanese room. Its the traditional 7 tier doll set and my In-laws bought it for us 7 years ago and I love it! But now it takes up the whole office space in our tiny 3 bedrooms flat. I want to keep it but practically I think we will have to get rid of it this year.
Helen A: Not sure how old ours is – still need to get the story. My MIL grew up wealthy and had a huge set, but got rid of it years ago which makes me sad/relieved. She was just about to drop insane money on a new two-doll set (mind blown at how expensive these things are) when her childless neighbour/family friend offered us her old one. The dolls are a bit freaky-looking, but it’s sweet. Pain in the butt to set up, take down and store though. It has a glass door and sides and I’m terrified it’s going to get smashed. All that said, though, it’s nice to have a set with some history, even if I don’t know what that history is yet.
Jessica S: The doorbell just rang and we got a package from my father-in-law (apparently I’m his favorite, according to my husband). While it’s just a candy holder, I think it is incredibly sweet of him to give it to us.
… But as Luna’s the youngest baby girl, we don’t get any dolls from the family. I didn’t want to let that stop Luna from having some, but we lack the money for a proper set. I ended up buying these because they were cute and not budget-breaking. It may not be traditional, but it’s ours. I hope Luna likes it.
Kathy K: My in-laws bought this for my DD when she was 7 months old. I usually set it up on the huge box it is stored in, but I had to get rid of the box because it was too big to store in our new tiny apartment. I about fainted when my husband told me how much my in-laws paid for the set. Apparently it’s the top of the line.
Lauren A: Here is ours. The dolls are about 90 years old and were my MIL’s (maybe her mother’s?). MIL had two boys and my other kid is a boy, so she was really excited to break them out for my girl.
Michelle N: Here are our dolls, and MIL always makes us something to eat with it:
Stacy K: I don’t have a daughter but once a girl, always a girl, right? A Japanese former student come friend of mine gave me two miniature sets. Here is one. The other is also about the same size. The pink candy is for scale. Its so interesting to see all the different kinds of dolls out there!
Stephanie G: My in laws surprised us with buying us really nice dolls for our LO. They went to Iwatsuki, Saitama (famous for doll making) to buy them!
Tina N: I didn’t grow up with this custom, so didn’t know how extravagant or fancy it could get!
MIL got us this set.
Vicky K: Not girls but dolls! The lady who we bought this house off had a son, and a HUGE boys’ day set. Her son only had girls, so she asked if we wanted it before we moved in. We said yes, of course! This photo is from 2007, when DH and DS1 were setting it up.
Beth M: We do everything with wall hanging quilts thanks to my Mom! Christmas tree, Hina dolls and Koinobori.. great space saver and the kids bring home lots of crafts for the 3D variety! This is one we picked up at Yuzawaya and Grandma Stewart went to work on it as soon as Naomi was born.
Gen N: She’s handmade with all the love I have for DD and hopefully even if my in laws eventually buy a set for her, she will still love this one.
Erinn LaMattery: workaholic SAHM with a possible touch of ADD. Favorite question: Free time? What's that?? Days are spent: raising 4 children, teaching part time, developing a jewelry business (http://facebook.com/offonawhim), and following the lives of the KA Moms! Cooking, cleaning and shopping are all secondary.